Ukraine must not delay the launch of a key electronic system to monitor the assets and interests of politicians and public servants, according to Transparency International, the global anti-corruption organisation.
In June, when José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International, met with the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, the president committed to launching the e-declaration system in August.
The new progressive corruption prevention law enacted in 2015 will make it mandatory for all public servants, politicians, managers of state and communal enterprises, and other employees who are paid by the state, to declare their full income and assets by submitting an online form. Politicians and high-ranked civil servants should make the first e-declarations in mid-2016 via this new platform.
“It is time for Ukraine to take serious steps to combat the endemic corruption in both its political and business sectors. President Poroshenko promised that this simple electronic platform would be launched in August and that anyone who lied on the forms would be criminally liable. He must hold to his word and ensure that this happens despite the fact that it faces strong political opposition from those interested in avoiding transparency,” said Transparency International’s Ugaz.
“If the system does not go into operation, the world will see that President Poroshenko is not serious about tackling corruption and holding those who are corrupt to account,” said Ugaz.
Failure to launch the certified system on time will also affect Ukraine’s prospects in obtaining visa free travel with the European Union.
In the past six months various obstacles have been introduced to stop the activation of the e-declaration system, which was developed and tested with help from the UN Development Programme and the World Bank.
The State Agency for Information Protection and Special Communications of Ukraine (SAIP) – a central executive body status which is coordinated by the Cabinet of Ministers, but also depends on the President of Ukraine and the National Security and Defence Council, must certify the system before it can go live and before information in it can be used in criminal prosecutions.
In recent weeks the SAIP cited technical issues that could delay the agreement it reached with the National Agency for Corruption Prevention (NACP) for a 15 August launch.
“Technology is not the problem. The failure to keep to the schedule would be political. It’s in the hands of the political leadership to ensure the launch goes ahead,” said Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, Executive Director of Transparency International Ukraine.
The NACP will have the role of monitoring and verifying the declarations. Any omissions or false statements can result in criminal prosecution, something Ukrainian lawmakers had tried to stop.
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